Many people believe that the critical first step to waste prevention is to recycle. While this eco-conscious practice is a great habit to get into, there are a few other tips you should consider as well. Here's IKO's quick guide to recycling:
Get informed. According to Sustainable Brands, 45 percent of people actively seek out environmental information. Use an electronic newsletter to inform your neighbors about local community recycling programs, energy-saving practices and materials, and educational events:
- Create a compost pile from kitchen leftovers to enrich the local soil and keep food out of landfills and waterways.
- Buy a reusable water bottle or a supply of water filters instead of bottled water to save the environment -- and an average of $200.
- Check out home recycling programs that collect yard waste, wood pallets, used motor oil, antifreeze, large appliances, scrap metal, tires, electronics, lead-acid batteries, foam padding and bulkier plastics to avoid overcrowded landfills.
Follow the policy. Visit your county or state’s website to discover information about recycling near you. Prepare for holiday and inclement weather collection, bin location and proximity to cars and mailboxes, pick-up time, prohibited contents, and the home recycling provider.
Consider the first two Rs. The saying is “reduce, reuse, recycle.” These words ranked in order of importance. However, many homeowners think about only the last word. Consider reducing the amount that you consume by avoiding packaged foods, buying less clothes, and purchasing quality goods.
If you don’t want to change your shopping habits, reuse current goods before recycling them. Reuse your plastic water bottle; use plastic grocery bags as mini trash bags or dog scoopers; or donate old clothes, dishes, and other items to a charity. Or find first-time homeowners or college kids that could use them.
You should always look for a solution before tossing anything into the big blue bin.
Buy recycled. According to TreeHugger, “the essence of recycling is the cyclical movement of materials through the system, eliminating waste and the need to extract more virgin materials. Supporting recycling means feeding this loop by not only recycling, but also supporting recycled products.”
You can find high recycled content in everything from printer paper to office chairs and online like The Freecycle Network.
However, you should know the difference between recyclable and recycled. For example, Tetra Pak, a multinational food packaging and processing company, says that they use recycled materials in their packaging, but only 18 percent gets recycled. Unfortunately, this means the recycling looped isn’t closed.
Recycle your robots. Electronics recycling is huge. You can recycle batteries anywhere, and a number of non-profit organizations will take old or spare computer parts and turn them into working computers. eBay also has Instant Sale to help your electronics find new homes while the American Cell Phone Drive gives your old cell phone to a senior citizen without a contract to make emergency calls.
If you have a major appliance to get rid of, offer it to local repair shops, trade schools, or hobbyists to tinker with.
If every homeowner goes green in your community, you can have an astoundingly positive impact on the environment, but it all starts in your own home. From reducing and reusing to performing a waste audit, these eco-friendly practices can help save the Earth one step at a time.
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